Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:There is no rule against high 5s or shaking a woman's hand, restrictions like in Thailand where people can't touch you are cultural rather than vinaya as far as I've seen. In Thailand a woman has to use a cloth to give you something, not so in Sri Lanka.
I think it's the monk who has to use a cloth to receive something from a woman, not the woman who has to use a cloth to offer something.
In receiving alms from anyone, one should not receive it directly with one's hand, but into the almsbowl, or by touching a plate or tray on which the offering is placed. In Burma too, no receiving cloth is used. Monks receive offerings by touching the plate or holding the table, and there is no need to touch a woman's hand. If the table is small enough for a man of medium stature to lift on his own, it is allowable to receive the entire table at once with the food already set on it. If the table is larger, each dish of almsfood should be received separately.
It's worth quoting the whole section from Ajahn Thanissaro's Buddhist Monastic Code from the Sanghadisesa precept regarding touching a woman lustfully. There is an offence of wrong-doing for touching a woman if the intention is affection. In the case of making contact with a high five or shaking the hand, it's not done for that reason, but I don't think it is appropriate for a monk to do either with a woman.
If possible, I explain that the customary way of greeting among Buddhists is by way of making Añjali. However, it's not always practical to do so.
Buddhist Monastic Code wrote:Intention. The Vinītavatthu contains cases of a bhikkhu who caresses his mother out of filial affection, one who caresses his daughter out of fatherly affection, and one who caresses his sister out of brotherly affection. In each case the penalty is a Dukkaṭa.
The Vibhaṅga does not discuss the issue of bhikkhus who intentionally make active contact with women for purposes other than lust or affection — e.g., helping a woman who has fallen into a raging river — but the Commentary does. It introduces the concept of anāmasa, things carrying a Dukkaṭa penalty when touched; women and clothing belonging to a woman top the list.
It then goes into great detail to tell how one should behave when one’s mother falls into a raging river. Under no circumstances, it says, should one grab hold of her, although one may extend a rope, a board, etc., in her direction. If she happens to grab hold of her son the bhikkhu, he should not shake her off, but should simply let her hold on as he swims back to shore.
Where the Commentary gets the concepts of anāmasa is hard to say. Perhaps it came from the practices of the Brahmin caste, who are very careful not to touch certain things and people of certain lower castes. At any rate, there is no direct basis for it in the Canon.
Although the concept has received universal acceptance in Theravādin Communities, many highly‑respected Vinaya experts have made an exception right here, saying that there is nothing wrong in touching a woman when one’s action is based not on lust, but on a desire to save her from danger. Even if there is an offence in doing so, there are other places where Buddhaghosa recommends that one be willing to incur a minor penalty for the sake of compassion (e.g., digging a person out of a hole into which he has fallen), and the same principle surely holds here.
Thank you for your response Bhante, or is Ajahn more appropriate? I find the BMC to be a help in my quest to learn the Vinaya, especially Ajahn's covering of the variety of commentarial sources, because I would not know these anywhere else, and while I don't strongly feel the need to follow what the commentaries say, especially since as pointed out in the BMC many times, they often contradict the Vinaya and themselves in general, I find its important for me to know this so when I do go to various monasteries that follow the rules differently I want to make sure I am following their rules to the best of my understanding.
One example is the debate between eating cheese in the afternoon, common and accepted in many Thai places, but not allowable in others and I would need to confess pc 37 here.
The cloth example is another one of those, as I have no experience with it, or whether its commentarial or cultural, only vague understanding from other monks and the internet, so I appreciate the clarification. I am well aware of the various permutations related to SD2, including the dukkata for filial affection,I find this particular rule to be quite interesting because it seems quite out of place from the rest of the rule permutations and I find the "don't touch your mother even if she is drowning" commentary to be pretty ridiculous, so I side more on the breaking a rule for compassion side. If in the once or twice a year I see my mother she wants to hug her son, i'm not going to tell her no and push her away, I'll confess the dukkata, even though I was not initiating it. That being said they know not to try and hug me in public, I understand image and dignity concerns.
I also accept the food here as the most junior monastic, and as you say in that regard there is no need to touch a womans hand, however it is quite common for them to bring the fruit or deserts directly to us in small white bowls while we sit with our alms bowls, and in that case when receiving I do make an effort to touch the white bowl only and avoid physical contact, more so to avoid any uncomfortableness of the person then fear of breaking a rule.
About a year ago I was in the hospital as a donor and the pre-admittance staff was doing the initial checks and tests, it turned out that one nurse was a Thai woman and when she saw me she backed up and expressed concern over touching me to do her job, which was drawing blood if I remember. I explained to her that it was fine for her to do what she needed to do and gave her reasons which finally made her comfortable enough to continue with her job.
As well as the 10 precepts, the novices have to observe the 75 sekhiya rules regarding the use of the robes, almsbowl, etc., so they have a lot more rules to observe than an eight-precept anagārika.
Bhante do you know if this in the Vinaya, or tradition? Because I was not told I had to observe the 75 rules as a samanera,which surprised me because I had assumed it was part of being a novice, since then I've heard from other monastics that it is not offical but some traditions use them for novices and some do not. I decided to do my best to follow the 75 as a novice anyways because I viewed it as training for my future life as a Bhikkhu.
once again thank you for the dialogue, it's rare I get to speak to a Bhikkhu with so many Vassa( I was a year old when you ordained), other then my preceptor, and I appreciate your input, as I always have in my years coming here as a lay person.